Sebastian and Viola are children of the English aristocracy. Handsome and moody, 19-year-old Sebastian is heir to Chevron, a vast country estate. Tying him to his inheritance is a deep sense of tradition and love of the English countryside, but he loathes the cold, extravagant society of which he is a part. At 16, his sister Viola is more independent: an unfashionable beauty who scorns every part of her inheritance-most particularly that of womanhood. It is July 1905, and Chevron is once again the site of a lavish house party. The guests include the great beauty Lady Rochampton and the explorer Leonard Anquetil. It is Lady Rochampton who will initiate Sebastian in the art of love, but it is Anquetil who opens for both brother and sister the gateway to another world.